What’s in a name?

You may have noticed the name of this blog is Baking on the Side.

Maybe you’ve wondered where exactly the baking has been.

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Four years ago I was looking for a change from my first blog, which I’d felt I’d outgrown. I wanted a new name that might have some room to grow with me. This name worked for me for a few reasons. I love to bake, but I don’t always have time in life, so despite baking being a fun activity it often gets relegated to the side.

It also spoke to my food philosophy. As a dietitian I believe in balance, and ultimately that hated word moderation. So delicious, butter, sugary baked goods should be something you eat and enjoy (if you like them), but within parameters of what’s healthy for you… say the 80-20 rule (for must of us baking fits in the 20%).

So that’s why despite having baking in the title there seems to be so few baking recipes on this blog. But hopefully that will change, after all with my new work schedule I have a little more time and energy to devote to writing this blog, and I also have more time for baking as well… so that definitely helps.

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So today I am bringing you some baking. A delicious recipe – with a hidden-you’d-never-guess-it ingredient. Or maybe you would… beets.

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Earlier this week I was craving something chocolaty so I began the hunt for a recipe on some of my favourite recipe blogs. These cupcakes are inspired by this recipe from Minimalist Baker, changed simply because I didn’t have some ingredients on hand. Now I don’t find it too uncommon to have beets in cupcake recipes, I’ve seen it before. However, the recipe called for roasting whole beets, and I only had shredded beets from food I’d prepped for meals last week. I also only had cow’s milk, which I knew would substitute just fine. I wanted to post what I did, so you can see how it’s possible to alter a recipe to suit what you have on hand rather than always rushing out to buy everything you don’t normally keep in your kitchen (even if the adjustments are small, it can be intimidated to make changes, so I find it helpful to see what one person did compared to the original recipe).

Beet Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients
1/2 cup shredded beets
1 cup milk (Original recipe was almond milk, but I used what was on hand – having just regular milk)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 heaping tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375*F, line or grease 12 muffin tins.
2. In a small bowl combine milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle into buttercream
3. In a blender add the beets, oil, sugar, vanilla and milk + vinegar combo. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a large bowl.
4. Into the bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda mixing at the same time. Mix until the batter is smooth.
5. Pour batter into muffin tin, fill about 3/4 full (I definitely overfilled mine oops!). Bake for 20-25 minutes – a toothpick will come out clean if inserted into the middle.
6. Cool completely, then dig in!

These cupcakes do not need to be iced, I was experimenting with an icing recipe (did not turn out awesome, mostly just overly sweet). But of course if you want to ice them that is totally up to you! I think a nice buttercream recipe would work well on these.

Lemon-Kale Salad

In keeping with my KISS theme, I thought I’d share with you a simple but delicious salad. This is the salad I bring to all my potlucks. I like to bring something I want to eat, and I find a lot of potlucks lacking in vegetables (but teaming in all sorts of other goodies) and I’m always left feeling maybe just a little too full.

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This salad has only a few ingredients, and they can be played with to suit your taste buds easily!

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A dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and sugar (and salt and pepper if you’d like), some kale, and some delicious toppings. Truly keeping it simple!

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Simple Kale Salad

Serves: 2-4 as a side dish

Ingredients
1 bunch leafy green kale
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp sugar (or sweetner of choice, honey or maple syrup work very well)
2-4 tbsp toppings of choice: walnuts and cranberries, or parmesan cheese, hemp hearts and raisins… the possibilities are endless!

Directions
1. wash and dry kale
2. In a large bowl whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, and sugar.
3. Add the kale, tearing the leaves into bite-sized chunks as you add them to the bowl. Do not add the main stalk, this goes in your garbage or compost!
4. Get in there with your hands now and “message” the dressing into the kale. You can be a bit rough, green kale is pretty sturdy.
5. Add the toppings of your choice and serve! It can be kept in the fridge for the week for easy add-to your brown bag lunches!

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Good Morning Muffins

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These muffins are delicious; whole grain, with a slight sweetness and some pineapple and raisins thrown in for good measure. Of course they also have a secret ingredient. Well, maybe not so secret if you look at the picture close enough. Still can’t tell? Ok, check out this next picture.

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If you guessed red lentils, you guessed right! When I think about baking I don’t often think about using lentils. But in late January I received an email from Canadian Lentils about their Recipe Revelations contest, the idea for muffins sprang to mind. Originally I wanted to imitate morning glory muffins, but I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients for them, so I scratched that idea. And my first try at this muffins included some grated carrot, which I eliminated after for simplicity sake; it just wasn’t needed.

According to my guinea pigs taste testers, these muffins are delicious; cake-like in texture, and just sweet enough. For those among us who are extra sensitive there might be a slightly after taste, but most people didn’t even notice. The recipe makes a lot of small muffins; perfect for snacks! Or some big cake muffins for those extra hungry days.

I have to say my brain is buzzing with other ways to incorporate lentils into my baked goods. After this I feel like the possibilities are endless; muffins, cake, cookies…. maybe even bread. And if you replace the regular wheat flour, these make an excellent gluten-free high fiber ingredient. Other than fiber these little gems pack a serious nutrition punch; they’re a great source of iron, and make a full protein when combined with a grain (like whole wheat flour…).

Now that I’ve convinced you that not only are these delicious, but healthy too, why not move on to the recipe?

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Good Morning Muffins

Serves: 18 muffins
Time: ~30-40 minutes (including prep and baking)

Ingredients

1 cup cooked red lentils
1 & 1/3 cup whole wheal flour
3/4 cup canned pineapple tidbits, 1/2 cup of the pineapple juice reserved
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanila
1 egg
1/2 cup canola (or vegetable oil of choice) oil
1/2 cup raisins

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*, and grease the muffin tins.
2. Using a blender, create a lentil puree using the cooked lentils and 1/2 cup of reserved pineapple juice.
3. In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients; flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. In a medium bowl mix together the wet ingredients; pureed lentils, vanilla, egg, and canola oil.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine until just mixed; there should be no flour left but the batter will be a little lumpy. This is the time to add the pineapple tidbits and raisins.
6. Next scoop the batter into the muffin tins, filling them roughly 3/4 full if you want to make 18 muffins. Place the tins in the oven, and baking for 15 to 20 minutes (my oven runs hot, so I actually probably cooked them for 12 minutes).
To check for doneness, simply use a knife or tooth pick; prick the center of  a muffin and if it comes out with just a crumb or too they’re finished. If there’s still batter, put them back in for a minute or two!).
7. Allow muffins to cool on a wire rack – enjoy by themselves, or with a little butter for a yummy snack.

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So what’s your favourite way to use lentils? Have you ever used them in a baking recipe?

Tuna & Hempseed Patties

I like easy meals.

Easy delicious meals.

I made this recipe last week. And it was great. Easy. And did I mention delicious?

The hempseed adds a little nutty-health boost, and works well with the tuna. The flavours are simple, and if you like playing with recipes, the world is your oyster with something like this!

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Tuna & Hempseed Patties

Servings: 1.5 (or 1 very hungry person)
Time: ~25 minutes

Ingredients
1 can flaked tuna, drained
1 egg
1 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp hempseeds
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh cilantro (~1 tsp dried)
Optional: 1-2 tsp fajita spice mix

Directions
1. Place tuna in a bowl, and using a fork “mash” it until you have mostly similar sized flakes.
2. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl, and mix until it begins to stick together.
3. Divide mixture into three even sized balls, and press into a patty shape, ~roughly 1/2” thick.
3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place patties in the pan, and fry on both sides until browned, and patties are heated through.
4. Serve with crispy baked cauliflower or rice or a salad!

See, easier than pie!

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Making Use (of left overs)

So maybe this New Year in your resolution craze, you went out and bought a juicer.
Maybe you’ve become a juice making fiend, in particular carrot juice. Maybe you have a lot of pulp and you’d like to be one of those thrifty sort-of juicers that use up the pulp….but you’re at a loss.

My brother and his fiancée bought a juicer just before Christmas and had a similar conundrum, and decided to leave the pulp for the expert (being me of course). I went home to visit and found a pile of carrot pulp awaiting recipe development and a few willing victims er I mean family members to be guinea pigs.

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This recipe was inspired from this post on the Kitchn. I’d been wanting to try a cracker recipe for a long time and this just seemed too opportune a time.

Carrot Pulp Crackers

2 cups flour (I used a mix of white and whole wheat)
1 cup carrot pulp
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tablespoons olive-oil (or any liquid vegetable oil)
1 cup water
Optional Topping: chia seeds and sea salt.

1. Preheat oven to 450* and lightly grease a cookie sheet or two.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
3. Add the oil and the water to the dry mixture. If the dough doesn’t come together, add more water a tablespoon or so at a time.
4. Flour a clean counter surface, and place the dough on it. I had to gather it together a bit and shaped it into a rough square or rectangle. Then roll the dough out using a rolling pin (or in my case a tall not-too-slanted glass). You wanted it to be about a 1/4 inch thick.
5. Sprinkle with the toppings.
6. Cut the dough into rectangles. The ones on the edge will probably not be complete rectangles, but that’s the fun of homemade crackers.
7. Transfer the crackers to the cookie sheet (I used a flipper/spatula as a few of my crackers had stuck to the counter…) and bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown around the edges.
8. Allow the crackers to cool, then serve with your favourite dip or some hummus.

I’m sure if kept in an airtight container they will last sometime (about a week in a dry place), but unfortunately these were gobbled down the night I made them so I can’t say exactly how long before they go bad.

The great thing about carrot pulp is it can be used just like grated carrots! I also made a few other recipes, including carrot-pulp muffins, and carrot-pulp pancakes. I did my best to use up that massive pile of carrot pulp, and managed quite a dent.

Waste not, want not I say.

Energizer Muffins

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I seem to post a fair number of muffin recipes. Which is odd, because I don’t generally eat a lot of muffins. But I guess when it comes to making my own recipes, muffins are one of the ones I like to make.

This recipe were inspired by a recipe on the Cookspiration App. Have you heard of Cookspiration? It’s a fun little website/app run by the Dietitians of Canada. It has different categories for the day and time you’re on the app, and gives you healthy recipe ideas!

Anyway I got started on this muffin recipe, and low and behold I was missing a few key ingredients. (expert baking tip: check your cupboard for ingredients before starting.)

So I had to make a few replacements and I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

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Energizer Muffins
These have proven to be a great energizing snack for my mid-afternoon slumps or just before a workout!

Makes: 12 muffins
Time: Prep: 15 minutes, Baking: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients

1 very ripe banana, mashed
1 cup grated zucchini
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Olympic 2%, but what you have will work!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (or dried fruit of your choice)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C) and grease or line a muffin tin
2. In a small bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, yogurt and vanilla.
3. Add banana, and zucchini and mix thoroughly.
4. In a large bowl whisk together the whole wheat flour, ground flax, chia seeds, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened. Stir in raisins.
6. Fill muffin tins evenly. Bake for about 18 minutes* (*my oven is super over-hot so I baked them for 15 minutes, I always bake for less, check them and if they need more time put them back in).

Nutritionals: Calories 154, Total Fat 4.5g (polyunsaturated 2.6g), Fibre 3.7g, Sugar 14.9g, Protein: 4.7g

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They aren’t super sweet, which I like, but it only makes the sweetness of the raisins pop even more brightly. Enjoy!

Baked Oatmeal

I go to the gyms in the mornings, I habit I’ve finally cultivated and absolutely love. But it does make it tight for getting to work. This breakfast which I heard about through Fitting It All In, and found the recipe for at Kath Eats Real Food is making things easy.

Get home from gym, start the coffee, throw a “baked oatmeal square” in the oven and voila! breakfast is ready as soon as I’m done showering.

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Baked Oatmeal

Serves: 4

Ingredients
1.25 cups large flake oats
1 cup milk
0.5 cups egg whites
3 ripe bananas  (2 works as well, I just wanted some added sweetness)
1 tsp vanilla
Optional: sprinkle of brown sugar

Directions
1. Turn oven to 375. Mix oatmeal and milk and let soak. Spray a 9×9 inch baking dish.
2. Meanwhile mash 1.5 bananas and then mix with the egg whites and vanilla until well combined. Slice the other 1.5 banana.
3. Mix all ingredients together, and pour into baking dish.
4. Cook for ~25minutes – at about 20 minutes remove from oven and sprinkle on the brown sugar, this gives it a pretty “caramelized” look. (you might need to cook longer, my oven is quite hot for some reason).
5. Serve with favourite topping (the picture above is peanut butter of course). Enjoy!

Mushroom & Pumpkin Red Lentils

Recently I found myself feeling somewhat uninspired for what to cook. I looked through my cookbooks, and went about to see what ingredients I had on hand, when I noticed a few random food bits in my fridge that needed using up… a large opened can of pumpkin puree, a bag of mushrooms from the week before.

Inspiration struck. Using a flavour combination from a lasagne I’d made in the fall the following recipe came together. It’s delicious; a hearty comforting bowl of sweet and savoury flavours (along with some healthy things like fibre, protein and vitamins).

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Mushroom & Pumpkin Red Lentils

Serves: 4 hefty servings
Time: ~35minutes

Ingredients
1-2 tbsp olive oil (I used ~1.5)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5-6 crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp each sage and thyme
Sprinkle of pepper
1 cup pumpkin puree
1.25 cups red lentils (could use 1 cup easily, I just overfilled the cup as I was pouring)
2.5 cups vegetable broth

Instructions
1. Heat the oil on medium heat in a pot or large sauce pan, add the onion and stir cooking for 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms, cook until mushrooms have reduced and browned, and onions are translucent 3-5 minutes.
3. Add spices, mix in followed by the pumpkin puree and the red lentils stir it all together a little (just makes adding the broth easier).
4. Add broth, stirring thoroughly so there are no lumps of pumpkin puree. Turn heat up and bring to a boil, turning it down and simmering for 15 minutes or until lentils are cooked through.
5. Serve over rice, or enjoy with a piece of naan bread!

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Spicy Almond Sauce

So I had a fantastic weekend in Vancouver last week. It was sunny, it was spring-like, and I was surrounded by friends and family, so what could be better?

Anyway, what I want to share with you guys today is the recipe for the spicy almond sauce from last week that I showed a peek of.

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Yup, I’ve been having lots of it. I actually made a big batch that can sit in my fridge and I can use for an easy meal any time.

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Spicy Almond Sauce
Makes roughly 9-10 2 tbsp servings.

1/2 cup Almond butter
1/2 cup water
1-2 tbsp Siracha (or other hot sauce of your choice)
1-2 tsp soy sauce**

1. Mix all ingredients together until they are a consistent colour. (I used a blender, easy-peasy).
2. Enjoy! Over noodles, vegetables, rice, edamame, or whatever floats your boat.
3. Store in jar or airtight container in fridge.
** I’m not a big fan of lots of soy sauce, it was such a strong flavour. If you like a more salty flavour though, swap out some water for more soy sauce.

Notes: you could totally use any nut butter in this (hmmm spice peanut sauce anyone?) and adjust the ingredients to taste. I found equal parts almond butter to water to be the best ratio but you could definitely add more or less for a different consistency.

Whole Wheat Flax Bread

I’ve been on a homemade kick. Basically all day Sunday I can be found in the kitchen, whipping up something. I’d forgotten in the past couple years of too-much school, and too-much stress, and too-little downtime how much I love to just play around in the kitchen. Get my creative juices flowing. (Also living at home, my dad really likes cooking so sadly I was ousted from that responsibility.)

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I’ve been making lots of bread lately. There is nothing as fantastic as homemade bread. Fresh from the oven, slathered in butter (or peanut butter, both are delicious choices).

I originally based my recipe on this one. The bread from Foodess’ recipe looks sort of like the photo below when sliced:

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The recipe always made a hell-lotta dough, and I’m only one gal so I started simply making smaller batches. I know baking is an exact science, but for some reason, I just don’t listen to the rules. I did use similar ratios of water:flour, but I also just add flour until it gets the dough to the right consistency.

Here is what I’ve been eating recently though:

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Whole Wheat & Flax Bread

Ingredients
1 tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
2 cups lukewarm water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 cups white flour
0.5 cups ground flax seeds

Directions
1. Place yeast, salt and water in a large bowl. Add flour, and with a whisk mix together. Continue to add flour until all is mixed. As the dough becomes tougher, switch to spatula, then your hands (sort of kneading) so that all the flour is mixed in.
2. Place dough in a bowl (I oil the bowl + dough a bit so it doesn’t stick), allow to rise for 2+ hours (Mine probably sat for 3.5 or so). Once doubled in size, punch down, then allow to rise again (can be placed overnight in fridge if you like as well, it is this overnight rise that I believe really leads to the more “artisan” type loaf).
3. After the second rise, divide in half. Shape both halves into loaves and allow to rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 400F about 20minutes before you want to bake the bread. Place a small baking pan in the oven at this time. When you put the loaves into the oven, pour water into this baking pan, the steam helps make awesome crust. Bake for 15 minutes.
5. Before you cut into a fresh loaf, wait a good 15-20minutes! I’ve had many a crushed and misshapen loaf of bread due to impatience. So wait a little while; it will still be warm and melt that butter perfectly, don’t worry.

And voila! Delicious homemade bread!